I have been championing the cause of the stone quarries in the Ribble valley connecting to the railway system. I have been something of an intermediary between Network Rail, the quarry owners and local pressure groups.
It has been an uphill struggle. The costs, which fall on the quarry owners, are horrendous.
But today has been a milestone. A physical connection has been made onto the S&C's down main line to and from Arcow and Dry Rigg quarries. Risking being told to go away I was allowed to photograph the points being connected:
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The site of the actual connection - the points are just behind the digger to the left of centre.
This gives an idea of the route the new line will take between the points and the railhead inside the quarry.
And here, inside the quarry, are railway lines and sleepers which will form the three sidings. The Dales roads will be far less congested and the Settle-Carlisle line will start to resume serving the quarries that it was, in no small measure, built for. The connection to these quarries was ripped up in the 1960s - when motorways were going to be the future. Remember?
The apartment block next to the water tower is nearing completion externally. The scaffolding is due to be removed next week so here is the latest:
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Our summer house can be seen top left. A very splendid looking building, stone built and with a slate roof is waiting to show its face to the world.
Meanwhile, the railway is closed this weekend for several major works to be carried out. This is the view from Settle station's up platform looking north. Marshfield Viaduct which crosses Kirkgate by the Victoria Hall is being strengthened and its deck waterproofed. Necessarily this involves lifting and replacing the track. The original Victorian waterproofing is being removed, as is the cast iron water pipe that used to bring water down the line to the water tower.
The big white crane is conveying mass concrete into the piers and deck of the viaduct.
Meanwhile bathed in sunlight Attermire Scar looks on under threatening skies:
I could not resist including this brief clip on the Blog. It shows grandson James (10) earning his corn by opening one of the gates on a gated road nearby when on a trip in the 101 year old Ford Model T Gladys Emmanuel this 'summer'. Turn up the sound if only to hear the magical noise of a Model T engine, sounding like a Singer sewing machine.
You may remember that our magnificent roof room arrived spectacularly under Police escort one December evening and was even more spectacularly craned into position the following day.
This was by far the trickiest bit of logistics in our entire build. We had to coordinate dates between CSi at Hull http://www.commercialsystemsinternational.com/, the crane contract firm, our own builders, the wide load hauliers and, most crucially the film production company, Tiger Aspect. The agreed date, just before Christmas 2011, meant that CSi especially had to work fast to finish the roof room on time. This had consequences for its fibreglass roof, put on in Hull in less than ideal early winter weather. Had it not been for the filming we would probably have delayed its arrival until late spring of 2012. Anyway, the die was cast and the deed was done.
Quite soon it became clear that the fibreglass roof was leaking in parts where the liquid coatings had not properly hardened - resulting in pinhole defects in some parts and exposing the glass fibre matting in others. This had let in water which had expanded the boards below. At the very edges of the roof where fibreglass had been bonded to the galvanised roof edge girders gaps had developed. Nobody's fault though and we faced the prospect of an expensive new roof for the roof room.
These show the sort of problems that were developing.
To the rescue came Polyroof - the national firm that had done the annex roof so very well. http://polyroof.co.uk/ They remembered the annex roof, prompted of course by repeats of our TV programmes. We explained our predicament. Bless them, they agreed to do the job and to supply the materials free of charge. Not only that, it would get a Ten Year guarantee.
Good as their word, the job was done last week by local contractor and roofer to the stars Paul Thornton, in what turned out to be a week of sunshine after this very wet summer.
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On a dull day so that the magnificence of the Yorkshire Dales does not detract from the finished roof, here it is
The edges of the roof have been capped with powder coated purpose made aluminium sections made by CSi in Hull so that the joint between the GRP and the steels is full protected all round the roof.
Both Polyroof and CSi have been exceptionally helpful to us and we feel very cosy underneath our new roof.
Have a look at the sort of work these firms normally do:
For many, many months now I have been quietly working with the owners of the stone quarries at Helwith Bridge and with Network Rail and others on the idea of re-connecting them to the railway.
It is great to see things coming to fruition. Here are the latest pictures:
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The line of the track can now be seen clearly as dumper trucks reverse down a hill to dump stone in front of a bulldozer which is leveling off the track bed
Arcow Quarry manager Mick Lambert surveys what will soon become his new train set.
Part of Arcow Quarry seen from what will soon be a public viewing platform. The blue lagoon is water accumulating in the quarry whilst the rail-head is being constructed. Normally this water would be pumped out but that has been halted to keep the railway work-site dry.
The quarry's output crusher is temporarily deployed producing aggregate of a suitable size for the work in hand. Here it is producing large lumps of stone for drainage works.